2001-Tue Feb 21 18:38:21 MST 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Everyone knows the geriatric human population in the United States is on the rise –– big time. But few pet owners have noticed that the pet population is experiencing a similar boom. This surge is why veterinary nutritionists and pet food manufacturers have started to turn their attention to senior pets.
Two studies have demonstrated that in the U.S. and Australia, 33 percent to 42 percent of pets have reached the seven-year mark. And though seven years old isn't exactly geriatric, if these animals were human, we might uncharitably categorize them as “over the hill.”
Which means the market for cats and dogs with specific geriatric needs is large –– and growing. While
dog owners are consistently willing to spend more on veterinary care than are their feline-owning counterparts, cat owners seem to be increasingly less price sensitive when it comes to their cats’ food. In other words, they’re often willing to spend more for the good stuff. And with
cats living way longer than seven years, the pet food powers-that-be are rolling out the red carpet for this soon-to-be-super-booming market of golden oldie kitties.
Cat nutrition is interesting. But geriatric cat nutrition is extra interesting. Nowhere are the pet food choices both more diverse and more controversial than in this marketplace.
Here are some points I find interesting about aging-cat nutrition:
I got to thinking about this subject not only because I have a thin and aging cat in my household (whose diet is currently being dictated by his brother’s urinary tract issues and my laziness), but also because I came across a recent article in
Compendium, a veterinary industry publication aimed at practical-minded veterinarians and, full disclosure, a sister publication of
The article, “Optimal Nutrition for Older Cats,” had a lot to say about what it called the “senior diet dilemma.” For this paper it surveyed 27 commercial diets marketed for older cats, ultimately finding that the calories, protein, fat, sodium and phosphorus content varied widely among formulations. In fact, the sodium and phosphorus difference (typically touted as the primary nutrients to carefully monitor in older cat diets) varied more than five times from one food to another.
Which is probably why, in this smart paper’s search for some unifying theme on the subject, it reached this conclusion:
“Finding the right diet for an older
cat can be a challenging task. Until nutrient guidelines for this population are established, it is critical to base dietary recommendations on a thorough nutritional assessment of the individual cat, including diet history, body condition, appetite and underlying diseases. Commercially available senior diets vary widely in nutrient composition and should be examined carefully before they are recommended for any patient.”
Hence the “dilemma.” No one, it seems, knows what to feed our older cats. And everyone, it would appear, is trying their darnedest to market the heck out of these foods anyway.
I don’t know about you, but all that hemming and hawing and profiteering kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But then, almost all highly commercial issues related to nutrition –– human or animal –– have a way of waking the dragon of suspicion within. Is it any wonder I’m less than enthusiastic about geriatric diets in general –– much less for cats?
For more of Dr. Patty Khuly, follow her on Facebook and Twitter and click here for articles on Vetstreet
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Many dogs will eat just about anything in
their path. That's why it's so important to
know the signs of intestinal…
From taking pills to clipping nails,
we’re here to help you take the stress
out of things many dogs loathe.
With plenty of patience, practice and
praise your dog might be willing to accept
— or even enjoy — this dental care…
Need a leash for regular outings or one
that can walk multiple canines? These
types of leashes are your best…
The fun and rambunctious Flat-Coated Retriever, known for his puppyish enthusiasm, makes a great family pet.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.